The Cable

Meet the real mayor of the White House on Foursquare

You may have read today that "The White House" has joined the social networking site Foursquare, so followers can track President Barack Obama. There is a new "White House" page where Obama's staff checks-in to specific locations when the president travels around the country, so fans in those areas can come out and see him or at least see where he recently was.

But actually, the actual White House here in Washington, DC, has been a Foursquare location for over a year and it already has its own "mayor," the person who checks in the most.

"The White House is now on Foursquare, a location-based social networking website, which is the latest way for you to engage with the administration," the White House said in a blog post on the move today. "There are over 10 million people already ‘checking in' around the world, and now you'll be able to discover ‘tips' from the White House featuring the places President Obama has visited, what he did there, plus historical information and more."

That's nice, but the other, unoffficial White House on Foursquare already has 23,568 check-ins, including six from your humble Cable guy, and 124 tips posted by everybody from Politico to Ellen DeGeneres.

Not only that, the existing White House on Foursquare already has a "mayor": Aya Maher, a staff reporter with the Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun, who gave an exclusive interview on today's news to The Cable

Maher said she's been mayor of the White House on Foursquare for over a year, but hasn't quite received the kind of attention that President Obama has gotten by being on the site for only one day.

"It gives me a lot of street cred among my social-media-savvy friends, but sadly, has had no other benefits," she said. "I do get a lot of random tourists wanting to be my friend."

She questioned whether Obama really has the wherewithal to check in on Foursquare consistently enough to establish a successful Foursqare identity.

"I imagine that POTUS has a lot of people calling and emailing him all the time, which could really divide his attention, and quite honestly, diminish his chances at ever really making it big on Foursquare," said Maher. "Alas, I think he is going to have to make the tough choice between being the president or the mayor of the White House."

And what does Maher think of the fact that the White House has swooped in and replaced the existing White House Foursquare site that she worked so hard to become the leader of?

"As POTUS' soon-to-be mayoral predecessor, I think the least he can do is give me an exclusive interview," she said.

Foursquare individuals register their location, allowing friends and fans to track exactly where that person is at any time, so they can meet up in person or rob their house when they're out of town. Follow the new, official White House Foursquare page here, the old White House page here, Maher's page here, and the Cable guy's page here.

The Cable

Clinton: Debt debate is hurting America’s ability to lead

The recent debt ceiling debacle and Congress's threat to force a default has hurt America's standing and credibility as a world leader, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today.

Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared at a joint event this morning at the National Defense University, moderated by the George Washington University's Frank Sesno. Their discussion focused on the future of the national security budget, but also touched on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, and the fight inside Washington over America's fiscal future.

When asked directly about the recent debt debate, Clinton referred to her recent trip to Hong Kong, where she assured world leaders that the United States always eventually deal with its internal challenges -- after exhausting all other options. But she said the episode had a negative effect on U.S. international leadership.

"It does cast a pall over our ability to project the kind of security interests that are in America's interests," she said. "This is not about the Defense Department or the State Department or USAID. This is about the United States of America. And we need to have a responsible conversation about how we are going to prepare ourselves for the future."

She then went on to defend national security spending, particularly as it relates to diplomacy and development, linking it to the U.S. rivalry with China.

"We can't be abruptly pulling back or pulling out when we know we face some long-term challenges about how we're going to cope with what the rise of China means," Clinton argued.

Vice President Joe Biden is on his way to China this week and officials previewing the trip said he will  defend the debt deal during his visit there.

Clinton and Panetta's event seemed designed to project a unified front between the Obama administration's top foreign policy officials ahead of the looming budget battle, where caps in discretionary spending mandated in the debt deal could result in huge cuts for the State Department and USAID.

"We know we are going to have to put everything on the table. I'm not saying we should be exempt ... I'm just saying that as we look at everything that is on the table, we have to try to do a reasonable analysis of what our needs and interests are," Clinton said.

"If you go out to the American public and you say ‘what's the easiest thing to cut?' it's always foreign aid," Clinton said. "We understand that we have a case to make and there is a new way of looking at it."

Panetta expressed general support for a holistic approach toward a national security budget that includes defense, diplomacy, and development. But he didn't go as far as his predecessor, Robert Gates, in advocating a rebalancing of budget priorities away from the Pentagon and toward the State Department.

"Our national security is our Defense Department and our military power and also our State Department and our diplomatic power," Panetta said. "We all know we are going to have to be able to exercise some fiscal restraint as we go through our budgets.... What I hope this committee doesn't do is walk away from its responsibility to look at the entire federal budget."

Panetta also repeated the administration's claim that the debt deal would cut $350 billion from the defense budget, a claim disputed by experts and top lawmakers. Panetta then warned that if the 12-person "supercommittee" fails to strike a deal to cut $1.5 trillion in spending by Thanksgiving, triggering an automatic $600 billion in addition defense cuts, it "would have devastating effects on our national defense."

"It would result in hollowing out the force. It would terribly weaken our ability to respond to the threats in the world. But more importantly, it would break faith with the troops and with their families," Panetta said. "And a volunteer army is absolutely essential to our national defense. Any kind of cut like that would literally undercut our ability to put together the kind of strong national defense we have today."

Regarding the State Department's budget, Panetta didn't advocate increases, but he did say it was "absolutely essential to our national security."

Panetta refused to comment on reports that the Pakistani military gave the Chinese military access to a downed U.S. helicopter that was used in the mission to kill Osama bin Laden. He did say that they United States has no choice but to continue to work with Pakistan.

"They have relations with the Haqqanis... there's a relationship with the LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba].  And yet, there is no choice but to maintain a relationship with Pakistan. Why? Because we are fighting a war there, we are fighting al Qaeda there, and they do give us some cooperation in that effort," he said.

Clinton referred to the last scene of the movie Charlie Wilson's War, in which lawmakers decided not to fund civilian programs for Afghanistan after supporting the Afghan military resistance to the Soviet invasion. She said the Pakistanis have a similar view of the United States "that needs to be respected."

"They are partners, but they don't always see the world the way we see the world, and they don't always cooperate with us on what we think -- and I'll be very blunt about this -- is in their interests.," she said.

Clinton also said it was not important whether the Obama administration actually insists that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad leaves power. There have been several reports that the administration was planning on announcing explicitly that the Syrian leader should leave, but then decided not to at the last minute.

"I'm not a big believer in arbitrary deadlines when you're dealing with a complicated situation," Clinton said. "It's not going to be any news if the United States says Assad needs to go... If Turkey says it, if King Abdullah says it, if other people say it, there is no way the Assad regime can ignore it."

AFP/Getty Images